photos by Roger DeWitt
Is it superstition? Is it fashion? Is it personal rebellion? Is it a little bit of all three? It’s not clear, but one thing is for sure: Magglio Ordonez is on the cutting (or not cutting, more properly) edge of hair growth.
His hair was long at the end of last season and at that time it seemed to be a luck thing, like playoff beards but, you know, less likely to make the wearer look like a child molester. Because all of Detroit was wearing the same underwear for weeks and making acrobatic leaps to get over cracks in the sidewalk at the time, the growing mass of Magglio’s hair was hardly given a second glance.
Now it has become something more. As you can see from the photos up top there, Maggs rolled into camp with his hair unshorn and, naturally enough, somewhat longer than it was in October. This has sent everyone off into a frenzy. MAGGLIO HAS LONG HAIR. OMG. WHAT.
The fact that this is even a story is infinitely delightful to me. I understand that Spring Training is the time of the “human interest” story, but who would have guessed that Magglio’s hair was a point of human interest to anyone other than ridiculous blogging entities like this one?
People seem to most enjoy making the classic, never-gets-old “we ain’t no Yankees” dig by asking Leyland what he thinks of Magglio’s hair (a YANKEE manager would be disgusted by it) and if he’s going to make Maggs go under the scissors before the season starts (a Yankee player would have to). Jim Leyland is no Yankee, so:
“He’s a grown man,” Leyland said. “I don’t think that’s a form of discipline, to tell a grown man to get a haircut. My form of discipline is to be here on time, be ready to play hard and be ready to beat the other team. … I’m jealous, actually. I wish I had it. He’s got a nice head of hair. But do I think it looks good? No, I don’t. Do I care? No.”
Leyland has here provided us with a concise version of what seems to be everyone’s main thoughts on the matter.
1. It looks like he stuck his finger in an electrical socket.
2. It’s Magglio’s right to look like he’s been playing with electricity if he wants to.
2.a. It’s a ridiculous team that tries to tell its players how to wear their hair (within reason… presumably if someone had a 2-foot high neon pink mohawk on which they perched their cap, MLB would crack down on them for the same reason they’ll make someone with too many arm tattoos wear long sleeves on the field).
Personally speaking, I don’t think it looks that bad. It’s certainly not as potentially grody as really long straight hair on a baseball player is (DEAR BRONSON ARROYO– YOU ARE SLIPPING INTO DANGEROUS TERRITORY. GET A NEW HAIRCUT. LOVE, EVERYONE), and he’s not (yet) cultivating the all-over fuzzy caveman look that Damon popularized. The long dark curly hair take a particular sort of person to pull it off, and I think Maggs is pulling it off so far.
He’s definitely rockin’ it better than Gary Majewski, who in my opinion looks like a reject from a stage performance of The Three Musketeers.
photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein
Really, the only story here would have been if Leyland was not OK with it. Because so long as Jim Leyland is OK with it, NOBODY CAN TOUCH MAGGLIO. You understand? If Jim Leyland tells you that something is OK, that becomes something you, the non-Jim-Leyland person, are just gonna hafta deal with from now on. Because Jim Leyland has spoken.
I think people keep asking him about it just because they know it’s gonna lead to awesome quotes.
[Leyland said,] “I tell you what, if he hits .300, I’ll shampoo it for him.”
To which, Ordonez replied, “tell him to go buy the shampoo.”
How completely amazing would that be? Some time in the middle of the season, Jim Leyland shampoos Magglio’s hair over a sink in front of a roomful of completely delighted photographers. Just picture that in your mind and savor it a little.
It also addresses what I reckon is the only real danger with this whole long-hair thing (besides the fact that his hat’s going to fall off much more readily in the field now): the dreaded grease. When that much hair gets oily and unwashed, it’s going to look special. And by ‘special’ I mean ‘disgusting’. But if he’s already got shampooers lined up, we’re all set and ready for the season to begin.